The coffee region of Antigua is spread across a valley surrounded by three volcanoes, Agua (Water), Acatenango, and Fuego (Fire). The coffee grown in Antigua is enriched by volcanic soil and tends to hold moisture well. The main shade tree in Antigua is the gravilea, which helps protect the coffee from frost. The main town in the region is also called Antigua. It is a cultural centre for tourism, as it is the ancient capital of both the Mayans and the country of Guatemala. The increase in tourism has attracted a lot of locals and foreigners to live in the town. The demographic pressures create a demand for property in the region, and farmers are enticed with lucrative property offers to sell their land. The key to keeping coffee in the area is to ensure farmers are being rewarded for the quality they are producing.
On Sunday, 3 June 2018 one of the iconic volcanos, volcán de Fuego, erupted. It was the worst
eruption in 100 years, creating a Pompeii-like scenario. In addition, a section of the Antigua region was affected. Currently, the full extent of the damage is unknown.
Meet the farmer.
Every farmer’s love story with coffee begins uniquely. For Gildardo Contreras, it started as a young
boy when his parents had 50 bourbon coffee trees they would pick and process together in his back garden. In 2012, Gildardo made his dream a reality when he purchased a farm from a relative who grew avocado and coffee. He slowly started buying up the neighbouring parcels until reaching the current farm size of 54 acres.
Felipe, Gildardo’s son, now manages the farm focusing on quality and works with the neighbours to improve quality and processing techniques. They always look at natural remedies for plagues and even have a magic concoction of garlic, chilli, onion, and water that eliminate one plague mould (fumagina). Coffee parcels are renovated by 20% (3 acres). They plan to replace the bourbons planted at 1800 mass with SL28, supported by an irrigation system.
This lot of Catuai underwent an anaerobic honey process. First, freshly harvested cherries are pulped and placed in an anaerobic environment to ferment. Fermented coffee is then dried on raised beds.